Los Angeles Lakers rookie D’Angelo Russell has received constant attention for the recording he made of Nick Young, and ex-NBA and NFL players have chided Russell for his behavior.
The only way you could have missed the craziness of the D’Angelo Russell incident this week is if you’ve been locked up inside or your internet has broken as quickly as Russell’s relationship with the Los Angeles Lakers. If you somehow missed it, though, Russell filmed a private conversation that showed Nick Young talking about being with younger women since becoming engaged to rapper Iggy Azalea.
After making the recording and keeping it for foolish reasons, it emerged online, and Russell has since been shunned and isolated by his teammates. From teammates avoiding sitting with Russell at breakfast meetings to moving away from him in the locker room, this violation of privacy and friendship has distanced Russell from the Lakers already (per ESPN’s Baxter Holmes and Marc Stein).
It isn’t just his Lakers teammates and almost every basketball fan out there, though. Former NBA players and even NFL players have weighed in (via Arash Markazi of ESPN), stating how damaging Russell’s behavior will be.
For a start, former 10-year NFL veteran Marcellus Wiley, now a SportsNation co-host, said that it’s the worst example of this kind off-court behavior he’s seen:
The violations start at pillow talk, and that happens in every single locker room. Guys are talking amongst guys, and someone goes home and tells their significant other, and that turns to gossip, and someone else hears about it from the outside and it comes back into the locker room. That’s a misdemeanor, because it happens so often. But what D’Angelo did was felonious. This is the worst example I’ve ever seen. This is damning.
Antonio Davis, who played in the NBA for 13 years and was once a president of the NBA Players Association, went as far as saying that Russell may even be traded:
We’re like brothers because of everything we’ve gone through. So for your brother to do something like that and for it to end up on social media, that’s lower than low. It says so much about [Russell]. I think it might get so bad that he’s going to have to be traded. If I’m on that team, I’m not playing with him. It would literally be hard for me to sit in the locker room with him.
Tim Legler, who currently works as an ESPN analyst after playing in the NBA for 10 seasons, said that new players arriving in L.A. may help Russell’s situation, but it’s still questionable as to how he’ll recover:
But even new guys coming in are going to know about this event. It’s a shady thing to do. People can write it off as immaturity, but I think it goes deeper than that. I think it speaks to your integrity as a person and your overall trustworthiness. It’s going to be a difficult thing for him to shed. I don’t know how you recover from something like this.
To top it off, ex NFL player and ESPN analyst Jeff Saturday said that Russell could have easily found himself in a physical altercation if he was unlucky enough to be in an NFL locker room:
If this happened in an NFL locker room, I would be shocked if there wasn’t a physical altercation of some sort.
You can scour the internet and pretty much all you’ll find is hate when it comes to D’Angelo Russell’s actions in this incident with Nick Young and the Lakers. It’s justified too, as it’s an absolute betrayal of trust as a friend and especially a teammate, not to mention the fact that it’s a ridiculous, immature action that can’t be forgiven simply because he’s “only 20 years old.”
However, the Lakers problems go far further, from their front office to the worrying culture head coach Byron Scott has created among the youth. On top of that, Young can’t be solely pinned as a victim after he is clearly in the wrong for what he’s done outside of his relationship with Iggy Azalea. Although, yet again, it needs to be emphasized that this would (and should) have remained as a personal matter if Russell didn’t wrongly intervene with a viral video.
If Russell is ever going to regain the trust of the Lakers and any new teammates he’ll have in the future, he has a lot of work to do in order to redeem himself.